The Great Gatsby: Reasoning Behind Jay Gatsby's Hidden Identity

Categories: Jay Gatsby

Throughout the novel, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby, formerly known as Jay Gatz, hides his origins in attempts to become a new man and forget his less than desirable past for a new life of fame, glory, riches, and the prize girl. Though, as the novel and the plot come to a climax, Gatsby must come to terms with who he is and all he has hidden when his secrets are revealed and all is lost.

One aspect of the novel that shapes Gatsby’s character and his relationships with others is his not so glamorous back story.

As a man known for his extravagance and ability to astonish anyone with his riches and great personality, many would be shocked to see that this was all a façade he learned to put on after acquaintancing himself with a boater who taught him the ways of gentlemen hood. After traveling the world with this man and building a façade, abandoning the former Jay Gatz, for the spectacular Jay Gatsby, Gatsby is thrown into the world and is left to rise to glory on his own.

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His deciding to hide this past and pretend to be someone who has learned the ropes of the rich world to gain beneficial friends and make money shapes his future life and relationships with others as he holds the weight of these secrets on his shoulders. He is forever known as the mysterious and secretive man who everyone admires but knows nothing significant about, until an enemy learns and reveals everything to tear him down.

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Another aspect of Gatsby’s hidden past that shapes his life and relationships, and seemingly the most influential of all, was his relationship with Daisy. From the time Gatsbys meet’s Daisy, he becomes devoted to winning her over, spending all his money on a mansion across from her, expensive material possessions, and throwing extravagant parties in which he does not enjoy at all, in attempts to win her back from her now rich and admirable husband, Tom Buchanan. This aspect of the novel seems the most important because without Daisy to keep Gatsby going in his charade of being rich and famous, he may not have reached such a level and dug himself such a deep hole, filled with the secrets and lies he holds in attempts to impress his love. And even with such a deep devotion to this woman, and the fact that she is one of the main reasons that he continues this façade, she is also the cause of his downfall, when these secrets become too much. For Gatsby, Daisy symbolizes the dreams he will never have, no matter how much money he makes, or who he pretends to be, because in the end, no matter what he did and who he was, it was not enough for Daisy, who preferred Tom, who has been rich his entire life, over Gatsby who supposedly rose to fame in his adolescence through work and effort.

The last aspect of Gatsby’s life that shaped his character and affected his future relationship to what they came to be was Gatsby’s childhood dreams. From his childhood, Gatsby dreamed of the extravagant. He abandoned his family and home in attempts to gain and become this dream that he has held so dearly, giving up everything he knew for this life and American Dream. This characteristic continues over into his new life as Gatsby devotes his entire being to a new cause, Daisy. For Gatsby, the idea of Daisy is so encompassing and amazing that he dedicates his entire being to winning her over, to the point that it overwhelms him and ultimately causes his downfall. Even for others, they are intrigued by the absence Gatsby sometimes seems to have as he thinks about all that he wants, his neighbor Nick once describing the way Gatsby stood on his dock and stretched his arms out towards the orgiastic green light of Daisy’s house, symbolizing all that he wants but cannot have. Disappointingly, for Gatsby, he was simply weighed down too heavily by his past and the mysterious origins that shaped who he become, once described in the quote ending the novel, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. (Fitzgerald)”

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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The Great Gatsby: Reasoning Behind Jay Gatsby's Hidden Identity. (2024, Feb 11). Retrieved from

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